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ICE facility in Calexico accused of releasing COVID- positive detainees into the public

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Immigration advocates say no testing before mass releases - CBS 13's Alexandra Rangel reports

CALEXICO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The Imperial Regional Detention Facility (IRDF) on the East side of Calexico recently released dozen of detainees some of who were positive with coronavirus. That's the accusation raised by Minority Humanitarian Foundation (MHF), a San Diego-based non-profit that provides services to immigrants and refugees.

The IRDF is being used to house those held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The MHF says it has been mass-releasing detainees. The advocates claim ICE released three immigrants last week who were positive with COVID-19.

“He said stop I'm COVID positive, I just tested positive," said Mark Lane, MHF CEO. “There were three straight days about a week ago where they released someone who was COVID positive here in public and drove away. They’re now in quarantine with the Imperial County Public Health Department."

After complaints with the detention center, IRDF said it would no longer release COVID-19 positive immigrants in public. Instead, ICE said agents would turn over immigrants to health officials, like the Imperial County Public Health Department.

Lane says ICPHD has been helping house immigrants through a voucher program. It provides hotel rooms so immigrants can quarantine. Lane, questions why ICE recently sent a COVID-postive migrant to the Greyhound station, instead of into quarantine.

“Well, I was picking up six. Now we were informed that five are going to get released tomorrow instead of tonight. The one person who is coming we were informed by the deportation officer that he tested positive for COVID," said Lane.

Lane says he waited at the bus station for nearly five hours, but the transport van never showed up.

MHF doesn't just deal with those suffering from coronavirus. Lane tells us, the change in immigration policies is making this a busy time for his organization. He says the group picks up an average of 20-40 people each week in Calexico.

“A lot of the time, I would say 90% of the time we get their airline tickets and get them to their families in the United States. We take them and walk them through TSA and get them on a plane," said Lane.

Monday on 13 On Your Side at 4:00, Alexandra Rangel learns more about how the assistance asylum seekers are receiving in the Imperial Valley.

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Alexandra Rangel

Alexandra Rangel joined KSWT in March 2019 as a multimedia journalist.

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